Travelocity cuts out operators in Disney deal

Travelocity is getting into the wholesale game in a big way, and Disney might be its biggest score. The Sabre-controlled online agency inked a direct distribution agreement with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to obtain theme park and on-site hotel inventory.

The inventory, which Travelocity

will receive on a wholesale or merchant basis, will be tied in with air and other components to create packages through the site`s relatively new Travelocity Vacations brand.

The agreement means Travelocity will no longer use Gogo Worldwide Vacations and American Airlines Vacations for Disney products, although it will continue to do business with them.

The Travelocity-Disney deal does not involve exclusive pricing or products, according to Randy Garfield, executive vice president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He said the pricing is “consistent with what we provide to other tour operators and travel partners.” Garfield said the exception is AAA, which has exclusive product and pricing.


Officials from agency groups were relatively unfazed by the distribution pact, although they said they would monitor it, while at least one tour operator certainly took notice.

“These online agencies are real competitors, and we take them very seriously because they are formidable,” said Gogo president Michelle Kassner, who confirmed the company will continue to work with Travelocity on non-Disney destinations.

Jack Mannix, on the job as Giants chief executive officer for only a few days, said the deal “is a trend we`ll be monitoring. I`m not sure anyone knows the impact of such an arrangement yet.”

However, Mannix emphasized—as did a spokesman for the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate division—that he was sure Disney would not play favorites with Travelocity.
“We are not going to get every customer,” Mannix said. “Our focus is, who are the customers that we can offer something special to.”

A Carlson spokesman, citing a “very powerful relationship” with Disney that includes an annual, national promotion, said “we`re certainly not concerned.”

A spokesman for AAA said its
AAA Vacations division
offers its 45 million members Disney products “that are unique and very hard to duplicate.”

“Consequently,” he added, “we don`t expect this arrangement to have a major effect on our business but will be watching to see how it works.”

Travelocity Vacations emerged in 2000, but it only began getting into gear late last year, as the Web site, like its rival Expedia

, pursues the merchant business to reduce its reliance on air sales.


Disney packages will be added in the second quarter, and Disneyland Resort packages will be added to the site`s California product later this year.

Mark Wilson, Travelocity`s vice president of leisure travel, said the agreement enables the site to maximize profit because it can control the product and package development.

“It`s a great marketing deal for both of us, and we`re excited about it,” said Wilson, who noted Disney will be marketed to Travelocity consumers through “onsite exposures and promotions.”